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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Solution May Be Near in Paper Murder




The former boss of murdered journalist Dmitry Kholodov said Tuesday the detention of a suspect in connection with the killing could finally mark the end of the three-year investigation into the case.


Kholodov, a military correspondent for the daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, was killed Oct. 17, 1994, when a booby-trapped briefcase exploded in his office. The failure to find Kholodov's killer has been a source of deep embarrassment to Russia's police.


Moskovsky Komsomolets editor Pavel Gusev confirmed media reports that the suspect, detained last week, was Yakov Popovskikh, a retired colonel in the army's highly secretive intelligence service. Police have been withholding the suspect's name until charges are officially filed.


While careful not to accuse Popovskikh of Kholodov's murder, Gusev said in a telephone interview he was confident last week's detention would lead to a conviction.


"We don't want to create the sensation here. All we want is to see those scoundrels who killed the journalist in the dock," Gusev said. "And I'm sure that there will be no mistake in the detention of this man."


He added, "I sincerely hope that we will be applauding in the court when this case is closed sometime in the fall."


Gusev said investigators had given him further details about the case, but had asked him not to disclose them.


Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov confirmed Tuesday that a suspect in the Kholodov murder had been arrested, adding that charges would be brought against the man "in the next three to four days," Interfax quoted him as saying. Skuratov continued to decline to give the name of the detained man.


Interfax, quoting unnamed sources, had reported that Popovskikh used to work in the main intelligence department of the general staff of the Russian army, known as the GRU. Officials at the GRU, however, said the suspect was neither a member of their present staff nor a retired GRU operative.


Zoya Kholodova, the mother of the murdered journalist, received the news of the arrest with caution.


"I don't trust those people very much. But times are changing, so do people. May be they indeed will solve this soon," Kholodova said.


Kholodova said she and her husband, Yury, did not feel any strong emotions about the detained man. "We don't want any revenge, but we are waiting for justice to be done," she said.


Kholodov picked up the rigged briefcase from a baggage check at Moscow's Kazansky Station, believing it contained confidential information for an investigation he was conducting into army corruption. He was killed days before he was due to testify to the State Duma, parliament's lower house, on military corruption.


The detention of Popovskikh appeared to be the first decisive step after a three-year hunt in which no obvious progress was made.


Soon after his killing, Kholodov's case was officially declared to be under the personal control of President Boris Yeltsin.


However in the three years the investigation has dragged on, the Prosecutor General's Office has claimed more than once to be on the verge of a breakthrough in the case. But each time it was forced to backtrack.


In another high-profile murder case, police have still to convict anyone of the 1995 murder of Vladislav Listyev, a prominent television journalist and the general director of ORT television.